*I received an e-copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. Thank you so much!!*
Where to begin...?
This novel is so brilliant it's practically beaming. I knew Diffenbaugh had the gift within the first few pages of her debut, The Language of Flowers, and concluded that if she ever wrote anything else, I had to read it. I was not disappointed. We Never Asked for Wings is stunning. It is poignant, rich, and masterful, yet delightfully accessible. This is one story you do not want to miss.
Once again, Diffenbaugh's prose is simple, yet striking; melodic and lyrical, her craft draws out and illuminates the beauty and complexity of humanity, and inbues the story with an evocative ability to dance. The rawness and realism is so succinctly portrayed as to be mesmerizing. And oh, the symbolism.
The symbolism is wondrous, absolutely breathtaking. The title alone still brings tears to my eyes. The words “we never asked for wings” convey a sincere and transparent depth of meaning beyond what I could have anticipated despite my high expectations. Diffenbaugh captures wabisabi, painting a profound, heartwrenching picture of possibility through lives and journeys which reflect our own and demand introspective action. She asked me, “Are you flying, or at least trying to fly?”
And ultimately, my answer was found to be, “What do we have but to try—even if we don't soar immediately, even if we fall at times, even if we are wounded? We must get back up. I must try.”
We Never Asked for Wings also wows with its cast. The characters are just so tangible—like they truly exist. And in a way, they do. They are my neighbors; the voyagers I never considered as carefully and empathetically as I should have; the mother I judged for her failures because, in my finiteness and lack of wisdom, I failed to perceive her heart. Excuse me while I use up all of my tissues—again. These characters will break your heart (in a good way).
I empathized with Letty's struggle to overcome her fears and beliefs about her own inability. The more I saw her perceptions about herself, the more I loved her. We, as human beings, are very different and walk different paths, but we have all have crippling fears keeping us from pursuing dreams of grandeur. We all stumble and bend, crack and crumble...and we come to a point where we are confronted with truths we may not be ready to accept (it's ok to redefine success. It's ok to have not obtained, and to not be able to attain, perfection), and where we must choose: fear or life?
This is not to say I never became frustrated with Letty, or that I never suffered disappointment. Trust me. There was plenty of yelling, sighing, and eye-rolling! But isn't that what makes a character believable? We get angry with our loved ones. We become frustrated when they don't choose what we understand to be best (:D). Yet we embrace them when they are hurting, and genuinely ache for them all the same. We Never Asked for Wings is a treasure trove of life lessons.
In addition to a knockout cast and phenomenal prose, the plot is thought-provoking and gripping, and there are more than a few good twists. Of course it's captivating and sustains interest, but it covers bold territory. I meandered through it, allowed it to soak in. Unlike The Language of Flowers, which I devoured first and pondered later, I felt compelled to chew bits at a time to ponder and process before moving forward.
We Never Asked For Wings is well worth the read; you're looking at another best seller for sure. Get your tissue box ready.
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